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It's no easy tour of duty for Lt. Nova Whiteside when her interstellar transport is taken by pirates and she is then tagged for termination. Could it have something to do with the mysterious alien they were transporting? Having gone from merely MIA to technically AWOL, any chance of escape leaves her no choice but to rely on Sethran Kada, a former lover, for help.
Unfortunately, she realizes that they are now on opposite sides of an escalating war between the Commonwealth Union of Planets and an increasingly dangerous rebel organization.
In trying to find who is threatening her life, they discover a plot to destroy a distant planet - a world inhabited by creatures that are the key to Nova's survival - and a conspiracy that threatens the stability of the Union Commonwealth.